My name is Leigh Campbell and I recently won an award for my role on my local partnership board. I’m 22 and live in Hanham in south Gloucestershire with my parents, my sister and my brother. I work for my local council as the co-chair of my local learning disability partnership board.
Earlier this year, I was nominated for the council’s Young Employee of the Year award by my manager, who felt that I was a real advocate for people with a learning disability and an inspiration.
I went to the award ceremony and was really surprised when my name was called out as the winner! I had to go up to the stage to collect my award.
I said a few words of thanks to everyone and to my mum and my sister, who had come along to support me. Afterwards, I got a standing ovation.
The next time I was in the office, lots of my colleagues congratulated me and I had lots of emails from other people that I work with. The award has given me recognition and raised the profile of people with a learning disability.
Dating, education and health checks
The partnership board has led to some really good successes. We’ve launched a dating and friendship agency, recruited community inclusion champions and worked with the local university to make accessible courses. We’ve also employed a health trainer and pushed to make sure that most people with a learning disability in the area have now had a health check.
I work for 16 hours each week. My job is to make sure that the partnership board works well, and that all the members work together. My responsibilities include co-chairing the board meetings and making sure that all members are involved.
I also talk to other groups, professionals and organisations about the partnership board and the Valuing People Now strategy. And I go to meetings and events to give updates on our work.
There are lots of things that I like about my role – I like talking with people with a learning disability, and I like being able to make change happen for them. I also like working with my colleagues in the office.
But I don’t really like it when I’m in the office for a whole day. And I don’t like emails – they take over my life!
Preparing for work
A Mencap employment service helped me to prepare for my interview for my job, and supported me during my interview. They also recruited a job coach for me, who is paid for through Access to Work and did a benefit check for me and helped me get the right benefits.
I think that it’s important for people with a learning disability to have a job – it shows society that people with a learning disability can be full citizens. For me, it’s given me my own freedom, status, confidence and self-esteem.
We need more employers who are willing to give people a chance, and recruitment and selection processes need to be more accessible.
Find out more about Mencap’s employment services